Shops blaze doused in 15 minutes

2010-08-04 00:00

FOUR store owners in Failsworth Road, Pietermaritzburg, lost thousands of rands’ worth of stock in a fire that started at around 5 pm yesterday.

Prakash Sewpujun, who was working in a nearby shop, noticed the flames and immediately phoned the fire department.

“They arrived here in less than 15 minutes and put the fire out straight away; they were really good,” said Sewpujun.

The fire began at the Jackets for Africa clothing store, which had already closed for business and had no one inside.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The senior divisions operations officer of the Msunduzi Fire Department, Essack Khan, said an investigation by the department’s fire prevention unit will determine the likely cause.

“We did what was asked of us.

“The guys were quick and the fire was put out in less than 20 minutes from when the call was made,” said Khan.

“The shops were overstocked and the fact that there was a lot of synthetic material in them meant that the fire spread quickly and gave off a toxic smoke.”

While waiting for the fire department to arrive, Sewpujun and other store owners in Failsworth Road used extinguishers to try to stop the fire but the blaze was too fierce.

The landlord, Oscar Mohammed, was alerted to the situation while he was in his office.

He rushed over to the premises to help to extinguish the fire.

Mohammed was clearly distraught as he digested what had just happened to his property.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of business,” said a tearful Mohammed

He said later that he estimates the cost of the damage to his property to be about R350 000.

Riaz Dhooma, owner of a clothing store called Choice Factory Shop, told The Witness that about R300 000 worth of clothes in his store were damaged in the fire.

“I’m still trying to take it all in at this stage,” said Dhooma.

“I really don’t know how we will come back from this.”

No one was injured.

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